Do you remember the donkey? Oddly, the Bible is full of donkey stories, but the Palm Sunday Donkey is pretty amazing.
You see, Jesus needed to get into Jerusalem but couldn’t get an Uber to the city, so he told two disciples to pick up a donkey… at a certain spot…by a particular street…in a strange city…stealing it from strangers…and what to say when they were questioned… (Mark 11:1-11). He was right. It was amazing. He just knew where the donkey would be and that the owner would be cool with him taking it. Also fulfilling a prophesy which doesn’t happen everyday (Zec 9:9). He then used this donkey to ride into the city to the tune of the people calling out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” (John 12:14-16)
Now, imagine that you were one of those people in the crowd and instead you called out, “That Donkey! How amazing! How did you find such a ride?! The donkey is king!” How odd! The donkey isn’t the story or the big event. Imagine seeing Jesus coming toward you and you can only think about the donkey. You would miss the very person of Jesus. And yet–
I live in Chicago where I serve as Worship Pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel and song writer/worship leader for Vertical Church Band. But before I moved here in 2001, I grew up on the south side of London, England, surrounded by music: I played in high school garage bands and all the way to today continue to surround myself with music and aggressively surf streaming music on my phone and embrace all genres. I love searching through the vast catalogue of CCLI and finding songs in many different musical styles that carry Biblical truths. I love music—a lot. God loves music too. He asks for new songs many times in the scriptures (Psalms 33, 96, 98, and 149; Isaiah 42:10.) God is even singing a song over you (Zeph 3:17). Yet just like the donkey isn’t the main event, neither is the song when we worship the Lord. Over the years, I have found myself too often standing in the presence of God and being a little too caught up by the vehicle that transported me and missing His priceless presence to which I have been transported. I have missed Jesus passing right in front of me. The donkey got in the way. Music is an amazing, powerful, beautiful gift we’ve been given it’s very tempting to be lured to worship ‘music’ instead of the God of music.
How strange it would be if we had the chance to see Jesus coming by, we would only want to glimpse the donkey? But what we want instead is to look at Jesus; the King.
Just like the donkey, a song itself will never be the most satisfying thing. Jesus is. I think even the donkey knew the palm branches and the hype were not for him, but for what was being transported – the Word made flesh. Friends, as we use this wonderful gift of music to write and lead biblically grounded songs of praise, let us never forget the purpose of the vehicle: to usher people toward a greater relationship our Creator God Himself.